Susan Rau Quits Marine For NatWest Private Bank

Sudden Move Said to Be Unrelated to Layoffs

Susan Rau, the head of private banking at Marine Midland Banks, unexpectedly jumped to a similar post at National Westminster Bank USA last week.

A Marine official, who expressed surprise at the move, said it was unrelated to the bank's layoff of 412 employees last week.

Private banking sources said Ms. Rau's hiring indicates a serious push by National Westminster USA to build its investment and trust business in New York. NatWest, a subsidiary of the large British bank, had been searching several months for an executive to fill the new private banking post.

Ms. Rau, who was named an executive vice president, will preside over all private banking and trust activities in New York and New Jersey.

Strategy to Boost Fee Income

NatWest USA is trying to recover from heavy real estate-related losses at its New Jersey bank. Part of its strategy involves beefing up businesses that bring in fee income, such as private banking and money management.

Ms. Rau will report to Douglas O'Brien, head of retail banking at NatWest USA and the recently appointed president of NatWest New Jersey. She will directly supervise three executives who run day-to-day private banking and trust operations at NatWest's New York and New Jersey banks.

NatWest plans to triple its personal assets under management within three years to $5 billion, Mr. O'Brien said. The bank now manages a portfolio of $1.5 billion for affluent clients. Mr. O'Brien said the bank has not adequately tapped corporate and retail clients for private banking business.

Portfolios Worth $10 Billion

At Marine, Ms. Rau oversaw client portfolios worth about $10 billion. Before being named to run Marine Midland's private clients group three years ago, she was the bank's director of corporate planning.

"It's not only that she knows the business, but she knows the marketplace," Mr. O'Brien said.

Ms. Rau's move leaves a big question mark at Marine. Before her resignation last Wednesday, she was reorganizing the bank's private banking, employee benefits, and trust services division - part of a massive realignment throughout the subsidiary of HSBC Holdings.

The realignment was to have been the bank's third in five years. A Marine spokeswoman said the company is now going to "reassess the business" and that Ms. Rau will not immediately be replaced.

PHOTO : Susan Rau Won't be replaced immediately

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